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Making firebricks


  • To make firebricks tear up old newspapers, junk mail, etc. Soak in water until they become a pulp. Squeeze dry, either by hand or using a firebrick cradle. Leave in the sun or a warm place to dry. - O.R.
  • My daughter and I, as well as making firebricks from soaked newspaper, also save toilet roll inners; cardboard rolls from different products and some small cereal boxes and stuff them full of squeezed out soaked paper for the fires in winter. Takes a little longer to dry but the kids are less reluctant to handle them and they make good fire starters. K.B., Kerikeri.

Making firebricks

Dave from Opoyiki has a lot to say about making firebricks from waste paper...

For many years I have been following grass roots magazines and-for many-years-practising perrnecuture principles. I have often read-about making fire bricks from recycled news papers and junk mail so thought I'd let you know what I have been experimenting with over the last three years.

From humble beginning I was making bricks by hand, shredding paper into strips and mixing

in a bucket of water before pressing into timber moulds, this was time consuming and not worth the effort so I picked up an old ringer washing machine, no need for the ringer part so off that went, then disconnected the water pump and blocked the outlet hole in the bottom of the bowl I now had a mixer to make paper mache on a larger scale. I then purchased a quality shredder to shred the paper into strips, (Although others may have access to already shredded paper from businesses or councils etc this would be better than doing it yourself) I then purchased two plastic garden sieves, this is to drain much of the excess water from the Mache from the washing machine, these sieves were placed over polystyrene boxes picked up from the local supermarket to catch the water and reused for the next batch to be mixed up in the washing machine.

After the mache had been draining for a few hours (overnight) it was then tossed into two litre ice cream containers with a 12mm hole drilled in the bottom of each, this was pressed in by hand, pushing the mix into the corners of the containers (moulds) no need to be over fussy how compacted it is, they will burn just as well as using a press, it just means that they may take a little longer to dry. Individuals will adopt their own ways or methods.

You can pick up hundreds of two litre ice cream containers from your local resource
recovery centres for free and while you are there you may as well pick up six or more 10 litre plastic paint-bucket, these are used to store water and to soak the shredded paper to-soften it up before placing in to the washing machine for mixing, all water is recycled but you will still lose up to two litres per brick even after draining excess water off. (You don't need to go out and buy one of those brick making presses for about $49.00 when an ice cream container will do the job.)

This is not a job for the cold winter months, I start in September as the sun and heat increases, too cold and lack of sun these bricks could take months to dry, I am lucky I have an area in full sun and out of the weather, in midsummer it still takes about two to three weeks turning every few days to dry (any area that receives full sun is good, Window sills, sun rooms etc) Once completely dry they can then be stacked in a back shed or garage but must not get wet as they - like hay bales - can combust and burn down your shed along with the saved up bricks for your winter fires and we don't want that do we?

I had a representative from the Salvation Army drop in one day and he fall in love with the idea and he took the idea back to his district hoping to start a similar idea for his locals to get

together and making these bricks for the poor in his area, Just imagine getting a group of keen volunteers two or three days a week or five days a week by different groups involved in brick making for those that are unable or can't do it themselves. If I can make 1000 bricks in six months myself spending 1 to 11/2 hours per day, then imagine how many a group could make in say 4 or 5 hours per day.

Each brick when dry weigh between 300g and 350g, (using two litre moulds) 1000 is 300 to 350 kilograms, I have four neighbours supplying me with all their paper including magazines, news papers, light board (Cereal boxes) and other junk mail as well as picking up more from the news agents of their unsold papers when I run out. As a green I also use much of the water from when washing clothes so this is also environmentally responsible. This operation can be run on the smell of an oily rag and if more people got involved in making their own fire bricks from recycled materials this would save many tonnes of the same going into land fill, your biggest costs would be buying the shredder and the sieves or the old ringer washing machine if you canít find one at the resource recovery centre.

Notes; if taking delivery of shredded paper from firms please ask them to not add any plastic in with it, plastic should never be burnt, this releases harmful toxins into the atmosphere when burnt. If shredding business envelopes with clear plastic windows do cut out the window before shredding, some high gloss covers on magazines also contain plastic and if in doubt rip off the front and or back covers and put out with your rubbish collection, the rest of the mag is ok to shred, you, will get to recognise these in time.

I am almost into my 60s and trying to live on a disability income, I find it is a good discipline to daily get out there and do something constructive instead of lounging in front of TV or wasting hours on the PC. For me it works but it would not suit everyone and if you don't try it you won't know.



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